Keeping the Ego In Check @ MCM-land

I recently read a blog post where the author was concerned about the value of MCM and wondered if this certification was just a vehicle for ego expansion.

I thought this was a valid question to ask and my thought was that, yes - if you’re not careful, there is a risk of arrogance or ego expansion after achieving this certification.

The exams are tough and it takes a significant amount of experience to be successful at them. With that said, I don’t see this as an issue today with the SQL MCM community just based on the daily interactions I witness with SQL MCMs on our distribution list and also with the SQL community at large. With many MCMs I see an inherent level of humility in the communications and I think that most have a healthy understanding of just how much there is to know (and that this knowledge is an ever-moving target).

So if someone is looking to achieve MCM status strictly in order to prop up their self-esteem or use it so they have something to mention casually at every social gathering, I would say it probably isn’t a good motive that will sustain you in the long run. If someone did follow that path, it would not take long before that individual gets called out by more knowledgeable people (who themselves may or may not be certified).

It’s okay to be proud of this accomplishment, but I think there are much better reasons to pursue this instead:

· Pursuing MCM is a way to motivate you to learn more. I myself have always pursued certifications as a way to force myself to learn concepts and try new things that I wouldn’t have otherwise explored. I need this structure and path in order to justify the time investment and keep me focused.

· You are joining a community of folks that want to help one another. As the community expands, the value of sharing expertise and experiences will also grow with it. Just being a part of the monthly ongoing education sessions and email distribution list discussions is another valuable way to keep growing and learning more from your peers.

· It is a differentiator. Notice I said “a differentiator” not “the differentiator”. There are many ways to stand out with your employer/customer/client. There are MVPs, authors, speakers, people who spend hours answering questions on the forums, people doing incredible things with SQL Server at massive scale and throughput – and much more. So MCM is another way to differentiate yourself in the industry.

· You can still feel proud of your significant accomplishment (without the arrogance, of course). It is indeed an accomplishment that you can be proud of. I like to see that MCMs are proud of showing the logo on their profile or presentations and participating in the community. This helps build awareness and encourages other bright folks to join the community. My recommendation is that you feel pride in that accomplishment, help keep the community going in the right direction – and in parallel – keep doing other challenging things (in other words not resting on the achievement).

As for the “value” discussion overall – there is a study coming out from MSL that details some positive statistics (I’ve been told it will be published in April). The study was conducted in November across all the MCM programs (SQL/Exchange/Directory/Lync/SharePoint) and I’m looking forward to talking more about this once the results are published.

Comments (4)

  1. Ike Ellis says:

    Great post, Joseph!  Those motivations speak to me more than ego (well, on my good days.)

  2. Joe Sack says:

    Thanks Ike!  Yes – and someone said to me that we all have egos, so it is just all about keeping them in check.  Good topic to think about, so thanks for motivating it.

  3. Todd Carter says:

    Great post Joe. I would not be able to sustain the level of commitment without the rigor of the MCM program.

  4. Joe Sack says:

    Thanks Todd.  Agreed!  (1,841 hours and counting on my end since July – but it is worth it.)

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